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The joy of maintaining a healthy, productive garden can easily be dampened by unwanted pests. Keeping the creepy crawlies at bay without nasty pesticides can seem impossible, with more and more home gardeners opting for a more natural approach…

White oil solution spray 

Vegetable oil-based sprays are classed as surfactants, an effective treatment for soft-bodied pests such as aphids and mites. 

This solution effectively smothers pests with the oil, making them unable to breathe through their bodies, instead of using chemical action. This way, these pests can’t develop resistance to the solution, also preventing any further eggs from maturing and hatching. 

The standard ratio to make ‘white oil’ is 250ml of vegetable or white mineral oil to 60ml dish soap (importantly making sure it is free from bleach). Mix well in a jar before transferring into a spray bottle. It’s important to note that this mixture only works when the plant is wet. Test the mixture on a few leaves before misting thoroughly, so that the plant is sufficiently wet, coating the tops and bottoms of the leaves, stem and branches. 

Beer Traps 

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Slugs can cause damage to a variety of plants throughout the seasons, but seedlings and new growth on herbaceous plants in spring are most at risk. 

Slugs cause many problems in the garden by eating everything from leaves and stems to bulbs and flowers. To minimise damage, you can place beer traps around the edges of garden beds and regularly check them every morning. Try making hand-made traps out of old yogurt cartons by cutting ‘windows’ at the top of cartons for slugs to crawl through. Place sugary beer in the pot, replace the lid and sink into the ground with the window just above ground level. 

Don’t drink beer? Other sugary foods found in your kitchen work too. Try a scooped out half orange, grapefruit or melon skin. 

Garlic Spray 

Garlic’s pungent unique flavour and aroma is a natural repellent to many unwanted garden pests such as mosquitos, aphids, and slugs. 

To make basic garlic spray, puree two whole garlic bulbs in a blender with a small amount of water. Let the mixture sit overnight before straining the mixture into a quart jar. Add one teaspoon of mild liquid dish soap and fill the rest of the jar with water. 

This mixture is now ready to be used with one quart of water. Spritz plants in the evening, holding the spray about 15-30 cm away from the foliage and cover both sides of the leaves with an even coating of the garlic spray. Reapply every few days, after any rainfall or once a week as a deterrent. 

Ground Coffee 

Recycled coffee grounds are full of nitrogen, giving your soil and plant a nutritional wake-up call. Not only is it a wonderful fertiliser, but ground coffee is also a natural pesticide, helping to deter many pests like snails, slugs and ants. It may not fully eliminate the pests, but the rough texture acts as a barrier to stop them from reaching your vulnerable crops. 

To keep the bugs away, keep some grounds back from your morning brew. Simply take a generous handful of the recycled coffee grounds and sprinkle around your plant and on the soil. 

 

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